How a DWI Could Affect Your CHL in Texas
You may have heard Charlton Heston’s “Out of my cold dead hands” speech quoted many times. His words and the 2nd Amendment are a big deal to people who own guns. Especially for those in Texas where the CHL is available, and where handguns are a major part of the culture. A DWI could take that license away, and that’s a scary thought.
Often, law-abiding citizens take the time to go through the process of getting a concealed handgun license, and then later make one mistake and are faced with a DWI as well as a potential charge for unlawfully carrying a weapon. This can be a huge shock to a person. They took the steps to get the paperwork required to carry in their State, and often they didn’t even have their firearm directly on their person at the time they were faced with the charge, yet they need two bond payments and are faced with two cases, so more time on their attorney’s bill as well.
How Can a UCW Charge Occur for someone Licensed to Carry, or who Carries a Weapon in Their Car in Texas?
The law can be quite confusing, but under Section 46.02(a)(2)(A) of the Texas Penal Code, if a person is engaged in criminal activity, then they could be charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon even if they have a license to carry, and even if the weapon is stored in their vehicle rather than on their person. For this reason, do not drive with an open container, or, if you are going to drive with an open container make sure that you do not have a weapon with you, either on your person or in the vehicle. This will massively reduce the likelihood of you being charged.
If you are arrested for a DWI, and you are discovered to be carrying a weapon, then you run the risk of being convicted for the DWI and also arrested for illegal weapon possession. However, and this part is important to understand, if you are later found innocent of the DWI then you will also, therefore, be innocent on the charge of illegal weapon possession assuming that you were licensed and otherwise correctly handling the weapon. The lesson here is that you should not drink and drive because as a weapon owner you face greater penalties than the average person should anything happen.
Can a DWI Impact My Right to Hold a CHL?Texas has strict rules when it comes to the CHL. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor at Class A or B, then you will be faced with disqualification from your CHL for five years. Your first DWI would be enough for you to see this penalty. Indeed, deferred adjudication for a DWL would be classed as a conviction.
Cases which are dismissed after the probation of deferred adjudication are still counted for the purposes of a CHL, and if someone is given two DWIs in a ten year period then they could be disqualified on the grounds that they are a chemically dependent person, and that disqualification will persist even after the five-year disqualification has been served. However, if you are found not guilty or if your case is dismissed, then you will still be able to apply for a CHL.
If you have a CHL and are Charged with a DWI What Happens Next?
There is no due process with the CHL. If you are charged with a DWI then your license will be suspended immediately. You will need to fight the charge to have a chance of getting your license restored.